accident – accidents abroad – witness evidence – burden of proof
LJ, Floyd LJ, Ouseley J
27 November 2014
The claimant slipped and fell
down a flight of steps at a hotel in Spain. The Court of Appeal had to
determine whether the hotel had acted with reasonable care and skill in
accordance with local standards, and where the evidential burden should lie in
respect of this.
The claimant slipped on a flight
of granite steps which led from the hotel pool to the reception area. The steps
were wet and she fell and suffered injuries, for which she argued the defendant
travel company was liable.
The court did not hear expert
evidence as to local standards of care, as the claimant’s application to adduce
expert evidence from a Spanish lawyer was refused. The judge in the first
instance found for the claimant, relying on the evidence of the hotel manager
that it was not acceptable for the steps to be wet and that there were no
specific Spanish standards on cleaning and monitoring the steps relevant to the
case. As this was the only evidence on local standards, the evidential burden
of proof was effectively placed on the defendant. The defendant argued that
this was an error in law, and appealed.
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